£1.7bn lost by online retailers as shoppers struggle to search for latest fashion trends

Gen Z willing to pay 33% more for products associated with social media retail trends, like "clean girl aesthetic" or "Y2K," compared to the national average. 

June 3, 2024 at 10:00 AM Coordinated Universal Time

London, June 3, 2024  - Algolia, the world’s only end-to-end AI Search solution – helping businesses and developers understand their online users and showing them exactly what they need now – has today published new research showing how influential fashion, beauty and homeware social media trends are for UK consumers when searching for products online, especially amongst Generation Z and millennials. 

The research reveals that online retailers are losing an average of £85 per customer due to poor online search function, leaving consumers frustrated and almost a third abandoning purchases before checkout. This number rises to £113 among Gen Z shoppers and £87 among millennials. 

"Y2K", "streetwear", and "clean girl aesthetic" are currently the most searched-for trends on social media platforms. This popularity is reflected in search volume, with Algolia’s research showing all three having a combined total of 19.5M searches across their platform in February, March and April 2024.* But, there's a disconnect between online discovery and in-store purchases. 58% of consumers can't find Y2K products, 56% can't find streetwear, and 65% can't find "clean girl aesthetic" items directly through retailer websites.

Generational differences 

Compared to other generations, Gen Z (58%) and millennials (58%) are the most likely to use social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to discover and follow trends. However, a significant portion struggle to convert this interest into purchases. 

43% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials report abandoning potential purchases due to difficulty searching for trend-related items on retailer websites. This lost opportunity is further highlighted by the fact that 50% of Gen Z and 57% of millennials would be more likely to buy if retailers offered easy search functionalities for social media trends. 

Bernadette Nixon, CEO at Algolia, says, "Research shows that Gen Z and millennials currently account for 25% of the UK's total retail spend. However, this is predicted to grow to 39% by 2030 as more Gen Z enter the workforce, making them a powerful group of shoppers. Retailers must take note and cater towards these online generations by adapting their search capabilities to fit their needs." 

AI personalisation is one way for retailers to offer more trend-based search options for consumers. The report revealed that 42% of people would be interested in using an AI personal shopper if their favorite retailer used your past searches on its site to train it. However, this rises to 67% amongst Gen Zs and 64% amongst millennials. Further to this, 41% of Gen Zs and 48% of millennials believe AI-trained shopping assistants can compile better outfits than they can. 

Nixon adds, "With the rise of social media as a trend discovery engine, retailers should implement AI personalisation to bridge the gap between inspiration and purchase. By understanding individual preferences and tailoring search functionalities to recognise trending aesthetics like Y2K or 'clean girl aesthetic,' AI can empower consumers to find exactly what they're looking for and convert social media buzz into real sales." 

Algolia commissioned an independent market research company, Censuswide, to survey a nationally representative sample of 2,001 Respondents across the UK between the dates of 13th May 2024 to 15th May 2024. Unless stated otherwise, all figures were drawn from this poll. 

About Algolia 
Algolia is a leading provider of AI search solutions, serving over 17,000 businesses and 500,000 developers globally. Renowned for its user-friendly API-First platform and the fastest AI search technology, Algolia is the largest hosted search engine, trusted by businesses and developers for 1.75 trillion searches per year. Backed by a decade of innovation, expertise, and growth, Algolia continuously redefines the search landscape with its commitment to user-friendly solutions, significant scalability, and unmatched speed. Learn more: www.algolia.com.